Recent data gathered by TEFL England highlighted some of the most highly sought after travel and TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) destinations overseas. The data was gathered from approximately 3000 people from all over the UK and conveyed some interesting results. The more popular destinations included India, Malaysia, France, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and Italy. Top of the table with the most interest however were Japan and China.
So what fuels our growing interest in working overseas? Obviously employment figures here in the UK are not all that rosy. Many of those facing employment struggles are graduates. A major study recently carried out has suggested that those who are graduating now face a much more difficult jobs market with poorer economic prospects than those who graduated a decade ago . With so many graduates grappling for the same positions, it's important to have an impressive CV which not only shows interesting, practical work experience but also conveys life experience. This makes TEFL extremely relevant.
There's been a surge in the demand for native English speaking teachers in Asia in particular due to enormous emphasis on economic development and global growth. There are vast opportunities available in countries throughout, especially for graduates, as a degree is often required for securing a position. This puts graduates in a fantastic position if they want to do a bit of travelling, gain work experience and see the world before settling down in to a position in the UK - or if they just want to escape an exhausting job hunt. China, South Korea and Japan are arguably the best places for graduates to go, and many employers will provide accommodation or offer flight reimbursements. Sometimes both.
The best thing about jetting off to Asia is that there are literally hundreds of jobs over there. Without any doubt, China offers the widest range of opportunities for graduates (closely followed by South Korea). It's a rapidly evolving country, with increasing interest from us here in the western world, and as figures have highlighted it seems to be destination of choice for a lot of people. Whether it's the food, the culture, the attraction of a completely different way of life, the lure of a rich history or the endless opportunities for exploration; China is a grower in every sense of the word. Stuart Allen of RAY English based in China, said:
"One thing is for sure, there's never been a more exciting time to live in this dynamic and vibrant country...The Chinese population is itself made up of 56 ethnic groups each with their own customs and traditions. All this makes China a wonderful country to travel, live in and explore."
We hear from people on a daily basis who have become TEFL qualified and gone on to have the time of their life. One former student I was in touch with recently, who is currently volunteering in India, spoke of her increasing cultural awareness and the development of her own understanding as a result of living and teaching abroad. She said:
"I think it is possible that I am starting to lose (no, not my mind, although some might beg to differ) but my Westerner's eye, and I'm beginning to see life through Indian eyes."
An experience abroad can change people; most of the time changing them for the better. It's said that travel broadens the mind. Increasing our understanding and respect for other cultures and communities has never been more important than it is now in this world of extensive intercultural communications and relations. TEFL isn't just about teaching English; it's much more than that. It's about helping others, developing your own understanding and making a real difference.